Zimbabwean sungura musician Daiton Somanje has died. Somanje passed away this week at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, where he was admitted last month suffering from meningitis. He was 50 years old.
Daiton's brother Josphat confirmed the singer's death. "He died around 5pm... We are devastated by the loss and we are still finalising funeral arrangements with family but he is likely to be buried in Marondera on Thursday,” he said in an article published in Zimbabwe’s Herald.
In Harare, mourners gathered at 391 Shingai Crescent in Dzivaresekwa 3 while in Marondera they were at 3704 Museve Road in Rusike.
Born in 1964 at Dennutor Farm in Beatrice, Daiton started performing in 1982 after dropping out of school and getting married at the age of 15. As a teenage father, Daiton had to work to fend for the family. He teamed up with his brother and friends to form a band that played handmade guitars and performed at farms in Beatrice.
Daiton co-founded Pengaudzoke with Josphat in the 1980s. He released his first album Munofamba Muchinditaura in 1989, with the hits ‘Kwatakabva Nenhamo’, ‘Ndatenga Dhirezi’ and ‘Famba Mwana’, which made the musician popular. The brothers released a number of hits until they parted ways in 2002, including ‘Zvibate Pamhaka’, ‘Usagumbuke’, ‘Seiko Kuonda’, ‘Mai Linda’ and ‘Tinokudai Mese’. Based in Marondera, the group became the most popular outfit from Mashonaland East. They shared the stage with the big musicians from Harare, leaving lasting impressions at most of their shows. Their most successful album was Tsaona, which was released in 2001, a year before they split.
Since then, the brothers reunited on several occasions but their reunions did not last. At the time of his death, Daiton was leading Pengaudzoke but was reportedly struggling to keep his career afloat, while Josphat is working with Somanje Stars, which he formed in 2002. Daiton’s son Faheem is following in his footsteps and currently leads the group Tokudai Mese.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe paid tribute to Somanje on the Facebook page: “National Arts Council of Zimbabwe expresses its sincere condolences to the Somnaje family, the arts fraternity and the nation at large on the passing on of a talented musician Daiton Somanje on Tuesday 7th April 2015. The National Arts Councli of Zimbabwe will always cherish his contributions in the music industry, particularly in sungura. Indeed, the arts industry has been robbed of a talented artiste. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.”
Somanje was due to be buried on Thursday 9 April at Marondera Cemetery in Marondera.